Games

Doom Switch Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 11:01

There was a time when the thought of playing a game like 2016's Doom on Nintendo Switch seemed too good to be true. Yet here we are, playing Doom on Switch. While it's impressive to see it running on a portable system at all, Nintendo's convertible console obviously can't stand up to the performance of other consoles or PCs. Doom has endured a few compromises during its transition to a more modest platform, and depending on your tolerance for blurry visuals and fiddly controls, these cut corners may be a deal breaker no matter how fascinating the experience is at first blush.

One thing is certain, however: Doom's campaign is all here, accompanied by the leaderboard-centric arcade mode. Just like before, you push through hordes of demons with bullets and gut-wrenching melee takedowns while a heavy metal soundtrack encourages you to go faster and hit harder. As enemies scale, your weaponry follows, offering a gratifying escalation of excitement befitting Doom's reputation.

This is not to say that Doom's campaign was perfect to begin with, and the same issues it had in the past persist on Switch. There's a fair amount of repetition to deal with, some of which diminishes what should be a monumental milestone: landing on the ground in Hell. You wind up going to and fro multiple times, and despite the feverish action that carries you along the way, there is an amount of deja vu to contend with that saps your enthusiasm, if ever so slightly.

Ultimately, Doom's fast-paced combat makes the occasionally repetitive journey worth taking, and the addition of arcade mode allows you to focus on action alone if you have little interest in the game's so-so narrative or mission structure. The mode was introduced on other platforms in a post-release update and is designed for people who want to either practice their speedrunning skills or rank on internet leaderboards. Multipliers and other score-boosting elements have been introduced to encourage different tactics, and in some cases, to create an unlikely path around a map for optimal scores and efficiency.

Every stage of the campaign is unlocked in arcade mode from the start, and you're allowed to pick and choose from the weapons that would normally be available to you, in addition to every rune perk (regardless of mission), when choosing your loadout. The freedom to hop back and forth throughout the game is a boon as a returning player, though it's constructed in such a way that you might want to dip your toes in the campaign from the start to get your bearings if you haven't played Doom since 2016. Unless you're able to find the rare extra lives amidst all the chaos, one death is all it takes for your run to end in arcade mode.

One of the unfortunate realities of playing such a demanding game with Switch Joycons is that you're bound by the limitations of small analog sticks. Doom offers sensitivity and camera smoothing adjustments that do help to a degree, but compared to playing on the full-sized Pro Controller, Joycons feel notably less reliable. And despite the options menu hinting at motion controls when docked, they don't apply to aiming--you just waggle the right joycon to melee enemies, which isn't as responsive or effective as simply pressing in the right analog stick.

Switch's screen can also prove problematic when facing a room of sprinting demons. It may just be too small to provide the encompassing experience the game's toughest challenges demand. It's also strange to see the UI as it is, with a font size so small that you'll be hard-pressed to quickly read menus when playing undocked. None of this is to say that Doom is unplayable or unenjoyable on the go, it's just the least optimal way to play.

No matter how you approach playing Doom on Switch, you will undoubtedly have to contend with blurry visuals. Bethesda has promised the game will run at 720p regardless of whether your Switch is docked or not. In practice, even if Doom is outputting a 720p signal, It frequently shifts into lower gear, presenting not only low-res textures and models, but an overall muddied image that indicates dynamic resolution switching and stretching. There are rare moments when Doom appears sharp and clear, but you regularly see drastic swings in quality.

There's nothing else like it on a portable system, but be prepared to face a handful of compromises, especially if you're used to playing on other platforms.

If you can stand to look at a lesser version of Doom's once captivating world, you'll find that the game plays well enough on Switch so long as you've got a TV in front of you and a Pro Controller in hand. There's nothing else like it on a portable system, but be prepared to face a handful of compromises, especially if you're used to playing on other platforms.

For a more in-depth look at Doom, be sure to check out our original review of the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions from 2016. Come back in a couple days for our final review after we've put Doom's multiplayer modes to the test on Switch.

For more information on GameSpot's approach to reviews in progress, please have a look at our Review Guidelines.

Categories: Games

Oure Review

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 01:00

Sometimes it's not clear what a game is trying to do, exactly, or what you were meant to get out of playing it. Sometimes a game just exists, and you finish it feeling neither richer nor poorer for having played. Oure is one such game; it's pleasant in parts, but it lacks a clear vision and sense of purpose.

In Oure you play as a young boy or girl who, in the game's opening moments, is pushed through a glowing door of light and finds themselves suddenly able to transform into a long and slender dragon, one obviously inspired by Chinese mythology. This type of dragon is a traditional sign of prosperity, and the game implies throughout that the actions you take may be repairing a broken world. Of course. There's a personal cost--there usually is in this sort of narrative--but there's not much in the way of pathos in this plot.

After a brief tutorial you're unleashed into an open expanse of clouds and invited to fly around the game's hub, following glowing markers to your next objective and collecting scattered blue orbs to progress. The dragon is simple to control, because there's not actually a lot it can do--you can climb up or dive down while flying through the air, and speed up if your stamina has recharged. The dragon is pleasantly zippy, and snaking through the skies at fast speeds is inherently satisfying. Gliding through the air, dipping into clouds, chasing orbs, and simply existing peacefully as the dragon is the most enjoyable part of the game. Unfortunately, the appeal of flying around wanes fairly quickly--the sky holds few surprises, and there's never a major change of pace or scenery. Wherever you go, it's just clouds as far as the eye can see, and the few collectables and additional pieces of lore you can scavenge aren't going to amount to anything significant beyond a few PlayStation Trophies. The novelty of flying around as a dragon wears thin because the game gives you little sense of purpose outside of your primary objective.

Your ultimate goal is to tame eight Titans, and to do so you need to collect the aforementioned orbs (although you can finish the game having collected less than a quarter of them) and activate pillars scattered around the map. Doing so is as simple as flying to them and finding their nearby activation point, at which point a Titan sequence will kick off. Most of these encounters are over within a few minutes, and combined they don't add up to much. The Titans might be epic in scale but taking them down is either very simple or annoyingly fiddly, with the game never quite finding the right balance in between.

The relaxing tone of flying through the clouds is at odds with these Titan sequences, and it's hard to identify a coherent link between the two parts of the game. The goal in each sequence is to grab every one of the glowing spires attached to a Titan, flying over them and figuring out the best way to approach the Titan's weak points. Each one requires a different method, but there's nothing here that feels particularly distinct--if you’ve played games with boss fights in them you'll be familiar with many of the approaches. After you grab a spire you'll have to solve a quick line-drawing puzzle, a la The Witness, to pull it out. Once all of them are pulled out the Titan will be tamed.

Among these sections there are quite a few good ideas, like scouring a creature's back for puzzle clues or one sequence that resembles a simplistic arcade shooter (albeit one where you don't shoot back), but these sequences aren't rich enough to elicit a strong response or make them memorable. I never felt a sense of achievement beating any of them, and by the time I'd defeated all eight I was surprised that the game had so little to offer. The difficulty curve is all over the place, too. The second Titan, which will occasionally knock you back with gusts of wind unless you grab onto pegs scattered along its enormous back, took me the longest to complete out of any of them. It was frustrating rather than feeling like a fair challenge--there's no indication of when the big gust is about to hit, and losing all your progress along the beast's back every time the wind came felt unfair. Only one Titan encounter felt particularly unique in how it was designed, forcing you to switch between dragon and child forms to progress (and even that one has some frustrating structural issues).

There just isn't very much to Oure beyond aimless exploring, since the battles are unsatisfying and brief and the collectables feel arbitrary. Lazily soaring through the clouds collecting orbs and finding secrets can be momentarily relaxing, but there's no compelling reason to keep exploring the clouds once you've wrapped up the Titan fights. The plot doesn't go anywhere, and the main action sequences feel like a small batch of concept proofs. Oure is the gaming equivalent of a daydream--it's pleasant and light, but it feels like a distraction rather than something worth latching on to.

Categories: Games

Big World, Big Battles, Big Changes

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 21:02

Since finishing up the Xenosaga trilogy, Monolith Soft has been reimagining the JRPG for modern gamers exclusively on Nintendo's consoles. The original Xenoblade Chronicles garnered plenty of fanfare and critical acclaim for its creative design and MMO-style combat. Its follow-up on Wii U, Xenoblade Chronicles X, didn't hit as high of a bar, but still showcased Monolith's knack for creating fun worlds. Now Monolith is going back to its roots with a more story-focused adventure that retains X's sense of discovery.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of the first big RPGs hitting Switch, a fast-selling platform still yearning for more exclusives. For a game so close to its launch date, Nintendo has been dishing out details slowly, leaving fans unsure of what to expect.

After spending four hours of hands-on time and chatting with its developers, we have a better understanding of what Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offers in terms of combat, characters, and exploration. Get ready to journey across colossal beasts and customize your party by discovering new Blades, all while seeking out the ultimate paradise for humanity.

Protecting A Blade

While Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is technically the third game in the series, it's the one earning the rightful title of a sequel.

"Xenoblade Chronicles X was a game really focused on exploring and [having an] open world and [defeating] monsters," explains executive director Tetsuya Takahashi. "When we thought about starting to develop the next game, I wanted to go back to a more story-driven design. And so in that sense, this focus on a story-driven game is kind of the legacy of Xenoblade Chronicles 1, so we decided to kind of make it the next iteration of that."

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 fits within the series' universe, but the team didn't want to just rehash what it had already done. Therefore, it crafted a brand-new narrative and characters alongside a revamped combat system complete with the depth and customization the series is known for, connecting its story and combat with the concept of Blades. In this world, you have characters who are "Drivers" and those who are "Blades." Blades imbue Drivers with specific weapons, such as axes and swords, granting special abilities in combat. Every Blade has special attacks that center on an elemental affinity. This all ties into your battle strategy (more on that later).

The story revolves around a world of endless clouds named Alrest, a Driver named Rex, and a Blade named Pyra. At the start of the game, Rex is just an independent salvager, but when he crosses paths with Pyra, he feels compelled to help her, as Pyra is not your typical Blade. She's the Aegis, which means she's capable of absolute destructive power. This drives a mysterious group called Torna to try and manipulate her for their own selfish means. Tired of being sought after by so many vicious people, Pyra wants to escape and go back to her home, Elysium, which is also known as paradise for humanity. No one knows if this fabled land actually exists, but it's said to be the key to everyone's survival. "We [wanted] to make it into kind of a young man's adventure," Takahashi says. "It's kind of lighthearted – there's a lot of discoveries to be made, so we made it almost like an anime you would watch. But you know the kind of person that I am; the story does get a little bit heavier, a little bit darker. If you expect the same kind of evolution from the story that you would expect from a Xenoblade game, you're probably on the right track."

Your main goal in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is to find Elysium, but it's not an easy task with everyone hunting you down while the world is embroiled in political turmoil. Many powers rule over different regions of Alrest, and each differ in how they coexist with their Titans. Having a deep respect for nature, the Kingdom of Uraya boasts advanced bio-technology, for example. In contrast is their rival, the Empire of Mor Adain. Controlling their Titans mechanically, the militaristic Empire packs heavy armaments for protection against potential threats.

Rex and Pyra meet other Drivers and their Blades as they navigate these regions. From the tech-savvy Tora, who creates his own robotic Blade named Poppi, to Nia, a hothead with a mysterious past and a regal Blade named Dromarch, every party member you encounter offers great (and much needed) assistance on your quest.

A New Art Style Xenoblade Chronicles 2 boasts a more youthful art style, looking closer to anime. It was a change Monolith felt would help make their characters come alive better. “We felt that in Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and X, the facial expressions [were] kind of a little bit hard, a little bit stiff,” says executive director Tetsuya Takahashi. “We really wanted to put a little bit more focus on creating facial expressions and for the characters to be more expressive, and so that's why we went with the direction we did, which I guess you could say is a little bit leaning toward something like Japanese animation.”

In many ways, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 focuses on what worked so well in the first game – providing a sense of purpose with the story. Unlike X, where you wandered around aimlessly for your next objective, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 gives you more direction and a direct connection to its characters and their plight.

This may technically be a sequel, but don't expect obvious nods to the first game. "It's completely different in terms of place, time, and space," Takahashi says. "Obviously I can't divulge all the details, but if you play the game, I think you'll get why this is called Xenoblade Chronicles 2."

This approach doesn't count out references to Takahashi's previous work on Xenogears or Xenosaga. "There's a lot that I can't talk about yet [that] hasn't been revealed, but it will be hopefully soon," Takahashi teases. "I think there's content in there where longtime fans of the series will have a pleasant surprise."

Click to the next page to learn all about the new combat...

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Categories: Games

New Trailer Details Daring Allies And Menacing Forces

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 15:19

Nintendo has kept a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 under wraps, but during today's direct it finally revealed more of the game's unique story and thrilling combat.

A new trailer, which you can see below, introduces you to how Rex and Pyra become allies after Pyra brings Rex back from the dead. Rex wants to repay her by taking her to Elysium, a fabled paradise for humanity.

Throughout the footage, you see your various allies and the imposing forces that are trying to keep you from your goal. At the very end, we're introduced to Mythra, a mysterious fourth Blade for Rex. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

We also got an extensive look at the combo-driven battle system, mercenary missions that help level up your unequipped Blades, and the customization options you'll have. Watch the full direct to learn more

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 launches on December 1, exclusively for Nintendo Switch. You can order a special edition now.

Categories: Games

Need For Speed Payback Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 00:08

Need for Speed Payback is the kind of arcade racer that never requires you to lift your foot off the accelerator. Its brazen drifting is effortlessly achieved with aggressive cornering and feathering the brakes, and judicious bursts of nitrous are your best friend down any stretch of open road. There are few games of its ilk nowadays, but perhaps Payback points to a reason why. Despite its impressive visuals and contemporary trappings, Payback's pick-up-and-play driving model harkens back to Need for Speed Underground and its Fast and the Furious-inspired street racing. Yet, unlike the series' heyday, Payback's arcade sensibilities aren't enough to save the game surrounding it from wallowing in mundanity.

Where Need for Speed was once heavily influenced by Vin Diesel and co.'s predilection for tuner cars and Japanese imports, it's now taking cues from the more recent Dwayne Johnson-centric entries, with heists and over-the-top action as the order of the day. Set in the fictional US state of Fortune Valley, Payback's derivative tale of betrayal and vengeance takes place against the backdrop of an expansive open world that surprises with its range and variety. The faux-Las Vegas of Silver Rock is a glistening urban jungle of glitz and greed that gradually broadens out into sun-kissed deserts, precarious mountain ranges, and the twisting turns that skirt through its forest wilderness. With a steady framerate and impressive draw distance, Fortune Valley's slice of diverse countryside is picturesque at times, yet its locales are never distinct or memorable enough to make a lasting impression, and speaks to an open world that fulfills its role without ever standing out.

And the same can be said of Payback's story. After our three plucky protagonists are double-crossed during a heist gone awry at the game's outset, they set a plan in motion to exact revenge on their conniving defector and the ominous criminal syndicate she represents. It's a simple enough conceit that gives purpose to the game's structure, as you're tasked with defeating various archetypal racing crews in order to earn a shot at your nemesis.

It's the type of clichéd story you'd ideally want to turn your brain off for; yet there's not a noticeable shred of self-awareness involved, and its earnesty does it no favours. The dialogue is hammy, but not in a fun B-movie way, and it frequently goes out of its way to reference everything from The Matrix to Dragon Ball Z, with some cringe-inducing millennial slang shoehorned in for good measure. There's also the kind of forced banter that's become commonplace in video games and is dutifully featured here--where, for example, calling someone "Lil' Ty" is absolutely hilarious to anyone within earshot. All of this might have been bearable if the story was confined to intermittent cutscenes, but the narrative is so prevalent in everything you do that there's little respite from its hackneyed storytelling.

Infrequent story missions do at least latch onto the pomp and spectacle of Payback's Fast and the Furious inspiration, but it falters here, too. While these moments of vehicle-based histrionics feature its most visually arresting set pieces, they're frequently spoiled when the game rips control away from you just as things are getting interesting. Whether it's launching an 18-wheeler off a bridge, perilously driving alongside a truck on the wrong side of the road so your partner can hop aboard, or something as simple as using a car transporter as a ramp; as soon as the game deviates from the simple act of driving from point to point, control is wrestled away in favour of canned cutscenes. This might look more cinematic, but being forced to watch a scene you could feasibly control from behind the wheel is incredibly disheartening, and feeds into Payback's inherent dullness.

This all combines to make a game that's bland and unfulfilling, and is only exacerbated by the sheer amount of grinding you're required to do.

Like previous Need for Speed games, you'll pull up to checkpoints within the open-world, with race, off-road, drift, drag, and runner events providing plenty of variety. There are also Forza Horizon-esque speed traps and drift challenges spread out across the open-world, and these provide minor distractions on the way to each checkpoint. Race and off-road events speak for themselves, and drift competitions offer an anomalous thrill. Getting your car sideways is so easy that there's a singular pleasure in simply seeing how long you can maintain a drift for, while drag events are short and sweet but soon grow repetitive as you're essentially just staring at a meter to time your gear shifts. Races and time trials are occasionally interspersed between the traditional drag events in an attempt to break up the monotony, but having to heave these cumbersome vehicles around the twisting turns of a race track isn't a great alternative. Meanwhile, runner events focus on police chases and timed dashes between various points on the map.

The problem is, outside of drift events where it's a non-factor, the sense of speed in Payback is startlingly lacking. The speedometer may say so, but there's no tangible sense that you're hurtling down the road at 160 miles per hour in a fuel-guzzling death trap. Motion blur attempts to sell a fast pace, but never captures the sensation that the world's rushing by. It's all surprisingly pedestrian, with passive AI racers and police chases that are elementary. The cops might be aggressive but you never have to outthink or outmaneuver them; escaping is as simple as reaching a specific checkpoint. Pursuits are just glorified time trials, and even the damage model lacks steel-crumpling detail, so takedowns are underwhelming.

This all combines to make a game that's bland and unfulfilling, and is only exacerbated by the sheer amount of grinding you're required to do. Each event in Payback is gated by your car's level in the most egregious case of caRPG mechanics in recent memory. Each vehicle you own has six slots for Speed Cards that represent various parts under the hood (like the gearbox and ECU) and come with perks that will increase particular stats and your car's overall level. Each event has a recommended level, and since there's no scaling this means you'll usually have to spend upwards of 40 minutes or so collecting Speed Cards to upgrade your car. It's possible to win races if you're a smidgen below the recommended level, but any more than that and the AI is likely to leave you in the dust. The AI might be lacklustre, but there's no way to compete when they're in significantly faster cars.

You can purchase these Speed Cards with in-game currency at tune-up shops, but whether they have useful parts or not is down to timing, with stores refreshing their stock every 30 minutes. But you also need this cash to buy new cars. You can trade in unwanted Speed Cards for part tokens, with every three able to be exchanged for a new card, and you also earn a single card for each event you win. But this means you're constantly reaching these frustrating choke points, where the only way to progress through the story is by going back and replaying old events in order to earn enough Speed Cards to bump up your level. There's even a Trophy / Achievement for replaying races that literally mentions grinding in the description. And when you factor in the ability to expedite the process with microtransaction loot boxes, it feels geared towards encouraging you to part with real money unless you want to spend time replaying lukewarm parts of the game over again. There's nothing fun about repeating events, especially against opponents that are now at a significantly lower level than you are. But the alternative solution of spending real money doesn't bear thinking about.

Need for Speed Payback's banal racing is only magnified by this focus on grinding. The simple, almost retro, handling model provides occasional bouts of fun, but it's never enough to escape Payback's flaws, with an unwillingness to let you partake in its most hair-raising moments, and a general drabness that seeps into every layer of the game. Fast and Furious, this is not; and that's a disappointing outcome.

Categories: Games

Horizon: Zero Dawn - The Frozen Wilds Review

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 16:00

With its incredible-looking environments and an ornate combat system, Horizon: Zero Dawn is an easy game to slip back into (even if you've ignored it for the better part of a year). The Frozen Wilds expansion makes a return visit even more enticing with new gear and challenges to seek out in the frozen north, with fresh enemies balanced to fit into the game's latter half. There's also a new storyline, which slightly expands your knowledge of the past and hints at events to come. Those revelations alone aren't terribly exciting, but as an excuse to revisit one of the best games of the year, Aloy's new journey hardly suffers from that small disappointment.

The Frozen Wilds primarily takes place in a previously unforeseen stretch of land that encompasses roughly 10-15 hours of new side quests and errands. Snow isn't new to Horizon, but it's never felt as ubiquitous as it does here. Mountain passes, valleys, and forests are choked with snow both on the ground and in the air. And when the sun cuts through the atmosphere just right, individual snowflakes take on gorgeous pink hues that make an already pretty game even prettier.

This scenic territory belongs to a tribe known as the Banuk, who have long lived in isolation from the rest of society. They follow a strict code of conduct that has more to do with self-reliance and pride than it does with justice and order. The constraints therein put pressure on Banuk in various ways, and most of your objectives in The Frozen Wilds focus on helping individuals overcome their personal struggles with tradition.

Your primary task has bigger implications, however, as a Banuk shaman living on the outskirts unknowingly holds the key to a new chunk of historical data and a new facet of the technological powers operating behind the scenes. Both this quest line and personality-driven side quests deliver heaps of dialogue, which, like Horizon's exchanges at large, range from heartfelt scenes to perfunctory filler.

But as excuses to clash with new sparking mechanical beasts, practically every mission in The Frozen Wilds feels valuable. The three fresh monsters are hugely formidable opponents that require considerable effort to defeat, and they are joined by a new power tier for every enemy--one step above "corrupted"--which makes pre-existing machines faster and stronger than ever. As you're shepherded along to new points on the map, you'll also discover strange towers that heal nearby enemies, their loud bellows making stealthy approaches even more stressful than usual.

Of the few new additions, the two grizzly bear machines--one uses ice, the other fire--stand out from the pack. They are capable of running on all fours or standing tall on their hind legs, and employ a wide range of hard-hitting attacks that punish delayed thinking in a heartbeat. Taking them down calls upon expert targeting and intelligent use of elements, the latter of which is linked to the new casting staffs introduced with the Banuk. These purely elemental weapons are perfect for putting enemies into a vulnerable state, to be followed up by attacks from more traditional weaponry. They prove useful beyond the frozen north as well, and it's easy to imagine (as a returning player who's already finished the game) how their capabilities would have come in handy during past trials.

Beyond new weapons, you'll also find a new grade of armor that adds an additional modification slot to standard armor types, as well as the Banuk's new gear, which carries auto-healing properties. Most new gear, if not given to you, is acquired through the usual mix of resources, which also includes the territory exclusive currency, Bluegleam. These gems are rewarded for completing quests and exploring the wilderness, and are in very short supply. You have to work to earn your new toys, but that's OK; the "work" is what makes Horizon so enjoyable.

The biggest and farthest-reaching addition has to be the new Traveler skill tree. Geared towards making your life easier and more efficient, traveler skills include things like disassembling extra items (rather than selling or discarding them), procuring resources while on horseback, and expanding your resource stash at large--all things that would have been immensely useful throughout Horizon. Seeing these new skills having already finished the main game isn't terribly inspiring unless you've got a lot of lingering quests left to hunt in the main map, or if you've been holding off on starting a New Game + run.

That said, coming back to Horizon for The Frozen Wilds alone is still worthwhile for the fights and sights, but it ultimately feels like a missing chapter, rather than an eye-opening extension of what came before. It's easy to imagine how newcomers to Horizon will benefit from its new gear and skills the most, for example. Likewise, its story feels better suited as an interlude than the revelatory companion to the conclusion it tries to be. Yet these are feelings that come up after more than a dozen hours of riveting battles and serene hikes flew by, so it's hard to get too upset at such a captivating experience when it's all said and done.

Categories: Games

Super Lucky's Tale Review

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 22:16

Though it shares a protagonist, art style, and platforming mechanics with 2016's Lucky's Tale on Oculus Rift, Super Lucky's Tale is distinct from its predecessor--at least at first. It features an entirely new set of levels and a greater focus on collectibles, but it's still a paint-by-numbers 3D platformer that lacks depth and falls short of being memorable.

Aside from how it looks, Super Lucky's Tale is almost indistinguishable from an N64-era mascot platformer. Lucky, a plucky fox wearing a little cape, has to save a series of four realms from a band of evil cats known as Kitty Litter. Along the way, you collect clovers to open boss doors and meet cute, if two-dimensional, characters who speak like Sims and need your help. It's never too challenging, always sticking to its safe, time-tested formula as you jump and dodge and collect your way to becoming a hero.

Though it's generic, Super Lucky's Tale is certainly charming, from Lucky's encouraging quips to the little smiles that appear on everyone's, even enemies', faces. Despite being under attack from the Kitty Litter, the worlds are joyous and colorful, looking a little extra sharp on the Xbox One X. The holiday-themed desert world is a standout if only for its offbeat combination of aesthetics--it features Yetis who live in a candy cane- and skeleton-adorned desert and live to wrap presents for each other.

The four worlds are split into five main levels and a handful of optional levels that earn you extra clovers. Most of the main levels are short bursts of 3D platforming, though a few are 2D, and the optional ones vary from constant runners to simple puzzles. The variety is welcome if only because most levels feel too similar; aside from a few mini-challenges in some levels, like corralling a flock of escaped chickens for a weary farmer worm, most of the time you're just jumping past easy-to-avoid obstacles to reach an obvious end point.

There are technically four kinds of collectibles: coins, gems that function essentially as coins, the letters L, U, C, K, and Y, and clovers. But clovers are the only collectibles that matter. There are four to collect in each of the main levels, though you automatically get one just by completing the level. Collecting 300 coins will get you the second clover, the only real benefit to collecting coins; finding a secret, like a underground bonus stage, will net you another; and finding all the letters in Lucky's name, easily the most fun collectible, earns you the fourth. The letters reward deeper investigation and a sharp eye for switches and hidden routes, though only a few of the many letters hidden throughout the game take more than a few extra moments to find.

And you don't need to find them, because you'll likely get enough clovers (or close to it) by playing normally, maybe returning to a level to get one of the coin clovers. You could easily beat Super Lucky's Tale by disregarding anything that takes extra effort, which would be fine if the platforming were enjoyable enough on its own. But a limited 3D camera that doesn't rotate a full 180 degrees and inconsistent mantling on Lucky's part causes enough hiccups to be frustrating. Most of your deaths will be caused by missing or misjudging jumps due to a weird camera angle or Lucky just not grabbing the edge when it looks like he should have.

Across all four of its worlds, Super Lucky's Tale doesn't stray far from its formula. It's consistently cute and full of smiles, but the breeziness of its atmosphere extends to its simple levels. It never builds upon itself or asks much of you, including the building blocks of a 3D mascot platformer without the feeling of accomplishment you get from learning and applying that knowledge to new challenges. It's easy to imagine how Super Lucky's Tale would be the highlight of a younger kid's weekend, but it has little to offer anyone looking for an enjoyably challenging 3D platformer.

Categories: Games

Call of Duty: WWII Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 04:00

Call of Duty's long-awaited return to its World War II roots is not only a homecoming, but also a commemoration of the powerful bonds that form between brothers in arms. Yes, connecting with strangers through online matches and the Zombies mode isn't unusual, but Call of Duty: WWII's moving campaign also salutes the brotherhood that grows and strengthens on the battlefield. Moreover, this theme is cleverly tied to a gameplay mechanic where you rely on your company for resources. Seen through the eyes of an American soldier and a few other Allies, this affecting story offers brief glimpses of how the Nazi occupation ravaged Europe and its people, including German civilians. It's emblematic of a game that--along with its multiplayer modes--delivers practically everything that one looks for in a pick-up-and-play shooter set in the Western Front of World War II while also breaking free of Call of Duty's formulaic trappings.

A first-person shooter set during the journey from Normandy to The Rhine isn't unique, but you haven't quite experienced anything like the tour of Ronald Daniels and the 1st Infantry Division in Call of Duty: WWII. It's a substantial, six-plus-hour trek where intense close-quarters combat complements spectacular showcase events, brought to life through excellent visuals and sound design. The booming cacophony of gunfire is fittingly accompanied by the crispness of the weapon reloads. And it's a journey rich in scenic environments that poignantly contrast against the death and destruction that surrounds you.

A supporting cast of well-crafted personalities greatly enhances the narrative. Moreover, they directly assist you during combat based on your needs and performance. As your best friend, Robert Zussman fittingly takes care of your health pack supplies while the equally helpful Drew Stiles ensures you have enough grenades at the ready. And while the war-hardened William Pierson is an dispassionate commanding officer effectively played by Josh Duhamel, his eagle-eye skill with binoculars allows you to spot outlines of nearby enemies. These contributions are tied to a cooldown that decreases as you kill enemies. This kill-driven method of supply replenishment is undeniably gamified, but it's nonetheless a crafty way to serve the narrative's focus on bonding with your squad.

While this is clearly Daniels' story, developer Sledgehammer thoughtfully shifts your perspective from time to time by putting you in other soldiers' boots, from Perez, a tank commander, to Rousseau, a French resistance operative. These valuable interludes relieve you of playing as the typical one-man army from start to finish. Sure, in the right hands, Daniels can be the war's greatest sniper and an accomplished AA gun operator in the same playthrough, but this campaign is a group effort and ultimately benefits from it.

Combat itself is not about rushing forward to the next objective. It's about hunkering down at nearly every fallen table, picking off just enough Nazis to give you an opening to the next cover point. Whether you're toughing out every yard of forward progress with your best available machine gun, or quietly knifing Nazis in the tough-but-fair stealth sections, the campaign delivers a wealth of harrowing battles where checkpoints feel well-earned. And as you count on your squad for supplies and recon support, you feel empowered as a valuable team player in a company that has your back. The result is a level of gratification missing from the newsreel kitsch and globetrotting designs of the series' last foray into World War II, Call of Duty: World at War.

It's a story supported with just the right amount of emotion, playing out both during firefights and periods in between. You have the option to add to your heroic reputation by saving wounded and exposed comrades or sparing surrendering Nazis. And Sledgehammer carefully humanizes Germans with dialogue that acknowledges the country's cultural contributions as well as having you play through a section where you help innocent civilians escape a heated warzone. Such small touches go a long way in adding heartfelt gravitas in a game focused on killing.

Naturally foregoing the future tech and superhuman mobility of the last few CoDs, the return to mid-20th century combat is especially welcome in WWII's adversarial multiplayer. Fought across 10 diverse maps set throughout Europe, these locales accommodate all the series' basic weapon types, although the prevalence of tight and enclosed areas makes shotguns and submachine guns the popular weapons of choice in Team Deathmatch and other classic modes like the territorially driven Domination or Hardpoint. Whatever your preferred game type, the maps offer a solid mix of symmetrical floorplans like Flak Tower or labyrinthine layouts like the Ardenne Forest.

Gridiron--WWII's version of Uplink--proves that Capture The Flag converted into a ball carrying competition continues to have a place in COD multiplayer. Even without the advantages of double jumps and wall running, there's much strategy at play as you weave in and out of the ruins of Aachen, Germany or the docks of London, the latter toying with the fantasy of Nazis troops on UK soil. It's more nuanced than simply running the ball to the enemy's goal; success lies in knowing when to pass to a teammate or throw the ball forward, allowing you to sprint until you repossess the ball. It's also not unusual to find joy playing whole sessions in a supporting role, whether you're making yourself a diversionary target as the ball carrier's escort or drawing the ire of opponents by camping at your goal.

If you are a sniper fan, your talents shine the brightest in War, Call of Duty: WWII's version of Battlefield's Rush. As a mode where one side of attackers attempt to conquer multiple segments of a map one section at a time, its multi-phase, linear format makes it a prime battleground for long-ranged weapons, whether you're picking off on-foot tank escorts or you're bold enough to zero in on bunker-based machine gunners. The asymmetrical format of assaulting and defending fits the D-Day invasion perfectly as one of the three available operations. Rather than limit the attacking side with finite respawns, the pressure is time-based. While this places the burden of success more on the aggressor's side, playing on either team presents distinct challenges and opportunities to be a valuable contributor. All operations proved involving and satisfying, no matter the side, which makes the limited selection of three sorties the one drawback of this otherwise stellar mode.

Whatever your preferred armaments, Call of Duty: WWII's new Divisions class system excels by letting you make the most of your specific play style while offering the flexibility to diversify your loadouts. By joining the Expeditionary Force for example, you have the exclusive benefit of incendiary shotgun rounds, but that doesn't mean you can't switch to an assault rifle mid-match. The more you play, the more rewards you earn that can be spent to hone your personal armory and abilities to suit your needs. Adding to your identity-building are the myriad cosmetic items you unlock by opening supply crates, which are awarded regularly as you play. This blind box system plays out innocuously, with no pay-to-win shortcuts in sight, at least in the game's launch iteration.

Tying these adversarial multiplayer modes together is the activity-rich social hub aptly titled Headquarters. Set against the backdrop of the Allied-occupied beaches of Normandy, this lively gathering spot is an inviting site to chill and train in ways impossible in standard issue multiplayer menus. Between the cluttered user interface and the checklist of available objectives, Headquarters feels overwhelming at first, but it speaks to the richness of this area's practical and entertaining activities. Along with completing goals related to the social aspects of Headquarters (e.g. commending your fellow soldiers) for modest amounts of in-game currency, greater rewards are in store if you activate Contracts. These timed challenges provide incentives to perform well in online matches beyond just maintaining a respectable kill/death ratio.

Headquarters itself offers its share of stimulating gunplay. A real-time score duel against a stranger at the shooting range delivers a 30-second competitive thrill, but the marquee match is in the 1-vs-1 pit. Its single-weapon stakes are socially enhanced by letting those in the queue watch current matches while they wait their turn. This spectator appeal even extends to watching others open their loot crates, effectively echoing the childhood pastime of opening collectable card packs with friends. It's the place to feel motivated by higher ranking players who wear their prestige status icons proudly. Sledgehammer knows what a big deal prestiging is as evidenced by the fanfare and spectacle of a plane flybys when you reset your rank.

Pairing cooperative play with the appeal of a goal-driven narrative, Zombies once again proves its worth as an essential Call of Duty mode. Titled The Final Reich, this survival mode of fantastical fiction pits players against waves of the undead in a Bavarian village. It's a setting as expansive outward as it is downward, where it can be easy to get separated in the midst of having to fend off zombies from all sides. When you're not busy trying to stay alive, you're completing objectives, activating switches, and uncovering the town's occult secrets, some involving symbols hidden in paintings scattered around the map. Those who thrive on multitasking will find the abundance of action items and the near relentless influx of brain-dead enemies positively engrossing. Yet you're delusional if you think you can complete The Final Reich after just a couple attempts.

Like the best iterations of Zombies, this latest take is loaded with different forms of carrots that compel fans to come back again and again. Chief among these motivations is how it instills the belief that you and your friends can progress just a bit further in your next session. Along with naturally gaining a better familiarity of the map and the many zombie types, repeat playthroughs reward players with a host of meaningful upgrades and quality-of-life conveniences, from passive buffs to custom loadout slots. Sure, you can amass the highest body count among the team by playing with the Offense loadout, but imagine how much more valuable you'd be if you customized your ability set with a support skill normally reserved for Medics.

Compared to multiplayer, loot crates in Zombies play a much larger, more practical role, adding to the mode's value as a compelling showpiece at the same level of Call of Duty: WWII's other game types. Any given pack can contain a game-changing consumable, whether that's a few free revives or a couple zombie-obliterating panzerschrecks. Figuring out when to use these valuable enhancements is part of the fun: Do you use your best consumables now to make a modicum of forward progress, or do you save these items for when you've committed the map layout and objectives to memory?

Ultimately, if every shooter set in the European Theater of World War II is measured by how it depicts its D-Day landing--assuming it has such a mission--Call of Duty: WWII emphatically succeeds in its impactful designs and delivery. The sensation of riding the troop carrier as it approached the beach filled me with depression more than dread, knowing I'd survive eventually while many of my surrounding brothers in arms wouldn't. While not equally emotional, this battle's reinterpretation in War mode proves to be a highlight in a superb suite of competitive modes. Zombies rounds off this stellar return to form, effectively blending the ferocity of online cooperative play with the goal-driven satisfaction of found in the campaign. As one of the most comprehensive and filler-free Call of Dutys in recent memory, Call of Duty: WWII successfully capitalizes on the series' strengths.

Reviewer's note: Call of Duty: WWII was primarily evaluated in a controlled "review event" environment hosted by Activision. As such, we haven't had the opportunity to fully test the online performance on public servers. Once we're able to do so, this review will be updated accordingly.

Categories: Games

New Dragon Ball FighterZ Trailer Explores Game's Story Structure

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 14:44

When clones appear and warriors drop unconscious in Dragon Ball FighterZ, you must bond with the Super Warriors and explore the game's three story arcs to find out what's going on.

The new trailer for the title both shows off some of the initial story cutscenes as well as the three story arcs.

For more on the game's story, check out our exclusive interview with Dragon Ball FighterZ director Junya Motomura. Also be sure to take a look at our other features related to our latest cover story on the game by clicking on the hub banner below.

Dragon Ball FighterZ comes out on January 26 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC (via Steam).

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Categories: Games

Seven Series Tweaks That Make A Huge Difference In Monster Hunter: World

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 16:01

Monster Hunter: World marks a seismic shift for Capcom’s series, which has gained a massive audience in Japan but hasn’t quite broken through in the West. The latest entry heads to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in January (with a PC version following), and building the game with high-powered consoles in mind gives Capcom the ability to make some significant changes to the game’s core structure. Most notably, the loading times between individual zones are gone, so there aren’t any pauses when exploring maps. That’s not all that’s changing, however, as we learned during nearly 10 hours of hands-on time with the game during a visit to Capcom’s Osaka offices. Here are some of the best ways that Capcom shakes things up.

No Loading Zones
We’ll just get this one out of the way: Being able to move freely in a map without having to wait for a loading screen to wrap up is great. Some may miss gaming the system by darting between zones to heal up, sharpen their blades, or simply take a moment to catch their breath, but I say good riddance. A certain amount of disbelief has to be suspended in a Monster Hunter game – the whole bit with the monsters, for instance – but leaping down from a platform to surprise a monster was a moment dramatically made less dramatic by the presence of “Now Loading.” 

Happy Trails
The maps are a lot bigger now, and even though they’re still split into zones on the map for communication’s sake, navigating them can get tricky. Fortunately, your character’s handy bug buddies can help by illuminating a path to your next big hunt. You do have to do some work for it, however, by interacting with footprints, debris, and other clues left behind by your prey. Stick to it, and the trail will eventually lead you to where you need to go. I sympathize with players who don’t want that kind of hand-holding, but I appreciated having the option of getting a more guided tour of the maps as I started. Once I learned where a fish monster made his home (it’s by water, incidentally), I didn’t need to rely on the spirit flies as much.

Durable Goods
Now that the two big ones are out of the way, we can get a little nerdier. In Monster Hunter: World, you don’t need to purchase pickaxes and whetstones of varying quality; you start out with one of each, and they don’t break. Maybe there was someone out there that got a kick out of burning through a stack of pickaxes as they mined. Now, you can mine until a node is depleted without having to worry about your pickaxe shattering in your hands. Similarly, keeping your blade keen is tedious enough without losing the ability to sharpen it on the field. Making those tools consumable wasn’t particularly interesting or immersive, and I’m happy to see that element fall by the wayside.

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Categories: Games

Warner Releases Thor: Ragnarok-Inspired Trailer Before The Movie Hits

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 15:39

The latest entry in the Marvel cinematic universe, Thor: Ragnarok, is coming to theaters on Friday, November 3. Warner Interactive and TT Games are using the timing to remind everyone about Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, with the release of a new trailer that features Thor, Hulk, and a bunch of other familiar faces.

In addition to recreating the big beats from the movie's arena trailer, you can see a bunch of other locations from the game – including Asgard – as well as Grandmaster, Thor Jane Foster, Throg, Beta Ray Bill, Red Hulk, Greenskyn Smashtroll, and Maestro.

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Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on November 14.

Categories: Games

The Newest Racer From Ghost Games Boasts A Full Open World Single-Player Campaign

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 13:00

The essence of Need for Speed has been something that Marcus Nilsson, executive producer of Need for Speed Payback, has been considering even now a few weeks before the game’s release.

“I think a lot of the DNA just comes down to cars, driving it at 200 miles per hour in the city, you’re drifting through corners, cops are on you, your friends are with you,” Nilsson paused, considering where he was taking the list. “DNA is not the right term for it, I think, but that’s the core of Need for Speed.”

The core he describes does provide an accurate summation for Need for Speed Payback, the first game in the series to heavily feature a single-player campaign since 2011’s Need for Speed: The Run. Within minutes of starting, you’re playing as Tyler, the city’s best street racer, fleeing from the cops at the highest possible speed and doing your best to put them against the wall.

Tyler and his crew have decided that they’re going to rip off a gambler, known as The Gambler, who has bet a large sum of money on Tyler’s street racing prowess, supplying him one of the world’s fastest cars for Tyler to bring home a win. Tyler absconds with the car, only to be betrayed by his middle-man. After getting caught, Tyler ends up making a deal with the Gambler in service of getting revenge and must reassemble his crew a year later for payback.

While Need for Speed Payback is an open world game, the preamble before you get there is fairly long. You live Tyler’s life while he works for the Gambler, bringing him cars, driving home, and starting the long process of taking on the organization that betrayed him. It takes a few hours to get to what resembles the Nevada deserts and begin the open world gameplay, the path to which is littered with qualifying races and a story that takes too long to get started.

When you finally get to the open world, the gameplay loop officially begins. As multiple characters, Tyler and different members of his crew, you tackle questlines that almost always involve meeting with the bosses of certain street racing styles and beating them at their own game. When you win a race against a boss or any of their toadies, you get a piece of equipment for your car with a level of strength represented by cards.

“We like to call it a CarPG,” Nilsson states, clearly proud of the name. “Customization is at the heart of this game. To take on the bosses and the story, you need to win races, you need more customization parts, and you need to make your car work for you.”

The cards all feed into a larger number, or level, for your car. When you take on a race or other kind of mission, your current car level is shown next to what the mission wants. You can proceed to try, anyway, but you can find yourself getting smoked fairly easily. While I was able to get by on skill alone by simply completing the questlines and leveling up that way, the developers have explained that you will need to actively engage in the customization and cards later on or you will stand no chance.

This is where my enjoyment of Need for Speed Payback kind of breaks down on the side of the road. By just participating in the story races and going back and doing a few with the different characters again, my number was not close to what the bosses of the questlines demanded. It took a few tries and more than a few shortcuts to do it, but I am not eager to see how future bosses will behave when my numbers do not quite measure up.

Theoretically, had I just gone through to older races and redid them enough, my number would have gone up enough to not only race evenly, but beat the bosses handily. That is, at very least, tedious. That level of tedium also got me curious whether these cards are just buyable.

“Well, there are Premium Shipments,” explained Nilsson. “They don’t give you better cards than you would get from racing, but you get more cards. It’s a time saver. People who do not have the time can buy those.”

I did not end up finishing the second chapter after leaving the desert, but I kept running into the same problem during my time playing there. My number was not matching up to what the game wanted by simply equipping whatever I won through the story, which is also a random drop at the end of missions, and I found the idea of going back to it to be unattractive.

The game design seems structured to make the player want to pay for Premium Shipments in hopes of just avoiding having to redo races. It is not egregious, as you can simply grind around the problem by redoing races, which is really the primary mechanism of the game. The problem is I was not having fun doing so, and the use of tedium to encourage people to spend money is not endearing me to the game.

Aside from that aspect, my time with Need for Speed could be fun, and the Fast & Furious-style heist mission at the end of the first chapter where the crew stole a car from the back of a truck was notably entertaining. It is just a problem that these event missions are given as rewards for getting through the rest of the chapter rather than making up the core of the game. Hopefully my fears are proven wrong when the full game releases on November 10 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Categories: Games

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm - Episode 2 - Brave New World Review

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 20:39

As a prequel story, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is surprisingly relaxed about filling in gaps of time. Instead, it focuses on the ways one small decision can set off a devastating ripple effect. Even something seemingly benign, like Rachel Amber bringing Chloe along to play hooky, kickstarts the chain of events we know inevitably shatters lives and families. And within the first few scenes of Episode 2, Chloe finds herself without a school or a home to varying degrees depending on your decisions.

Episode 1 took away Chloe's emotional support only to replace it with Rachel, a shaky companion if there ever was one. Chloe doesn't really have a whole lot else, and Rachel seems to be the only dependable person she can look to--despite her emotional unavailability. We see the beginnings of what Chloe will become as a direct result of her relationship with her, and even at the episode's most joyous and cathartic--and there's a lot more of those moments in Episode 2 than one might expect given the series' history--there's still something about Rachel that screams danger.

Overall, however, there's less of Episode 1's teenage angst and more of Chloe's gradual slide into the Arcadia Bay's dark side. This comes courtesy of Frank, a shady drug dealer who gives Chloe a chance to work off her weed debt by snatching a wad of cash from Blackwell's resident jock, Drew. It seems mildly contrived and unlikely that Chloe would be able to slip back on campus so easily after the game makes such a big deal out of her being tossed out. Regardless, Chloe's walk on the shady side provides a rather harsh chance for you to define her as a person, particularly since all of her choices lead to some ugly results--at the expense of a character who, as we find out, deserves it the least.

Chloe's time seeing Rachel perform in The Tempest provides a nice contrast to the darkness. It's not only a chance to screw over one of Life Is Strange's more despicable characters, but a performance and an aftermath that comprise two of the sweetest moments the series has ever put forth. It's that sweetness that carries you to the climax, a long overdue confrontation with Rachel's deeply conservative parents, and a twist that only time will prove to be a stroke of genius or a soap opera element that Life Is Strange has deftly avoided since its inception.

Despite, or possibly because of, all the plot crammed into such a small space of time, it's probably the least ambitious episode of either this series or the original. The Talkback system from Episode 1 is used sparingly here, and depending on how you want to direct certain choices, it's possible to go the entire second half of the episode without needing to use it. The puzzle elements only apply to Chloe sneaking her way into Blackwell, and none of the scenarios really require more than basic common sense to figure out. One of them can even resolve itself, since Chloe texts someone for help after you've failed it enough.

Hell Is Empty is probably the most blatantly episodic entry between Life Is Strange and Before The Storm, showcasing comparatively few moments outside the opening scenes where the choices seem life-changing or urgent. Yet Deck Nine has effectively made a story with a predictable conclusion feel engaging, and even hopeful against all odds. Right now, it feels like a blessing that they've let Chloe and Rachel Amber have their simple moment in time; right now, nothing can go wrong, the world is full of possibilities. The storm can wait.

Categories: Games

The Fully Remade Team ICO Game Is As Bleak And Beautiful As Ever

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 16:00

When a Shadow of the Colossus remake showed up at Sony’s E3 event earlier this year, it made a huge but very brief splash. Since then, details have been sparse. The venerated title has been lauded since its release in 2005, but the idea of a remake is simultaneously exciting and worrying for fans who are cautious that a 2017 release can capture what was great about the original.

As a PlayStation 2 game, Shadow of the Colossus stretched that hardware as far as it could go. The massive bosses and vast, open environments forced the framerate into near-unplayable states at times. The filmic look was a visual treat, but could end up really chugging in a way that stressed the extent to which the game was coded to the metal. A lot of these issues were fixed in an HD remaster on the PlayStation 3 made by Bluepoint, the same developers working on this version, but was not the full remake fans were hoping for.

The Shadow of the Colossus remake for PlayStation 4 looks incredible, and can hold its own as a modern-looking title against others made from the ground up for the console. Every texture is new, every effect freshly crafted, the world of Shadow of the Colossus has never looked better. The new graphics even retain a level of dirt and grime that helped make said world feel bleak and lonely.

One major change is the density of small touches Bluepoint has added to the world. Moss grows between bricks with flowers popping up here and there. The path to the 13th Colossus has a small forest blocking your way, which is a pocket of lushness not seen anywhere else or in the original title. These small things start to make the world feel a little different and a little less dead when taken in aggregate. Whether or not that is a good thing depends on how the player interpreted director Fumito Ueda's vision the first time through.

That sense of vertigo when a Colossus takes up your entire screen and, unconcerned with you, flies past your view remains perfectly intact, however.

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The noticeable heft and weight to Wander, the game’s protagonist, is mostly retained in the remake. He moves slightly easier and jumps with a bit less heaviness than he originally did. It is almost imperceptible, but can definitely be seen when looking for it. Aggro is as stubborn as ever, sometimes coming to dead stops at small rocks in the road. While a new control method has been confirmed, it was not available in the demo.

While the game looks much better, it makes some of the original game’s more forgivable issues on the PlayStation 2 seem weird now. When Aggro has collision issues and vibrates out of control, it looks significantly more jarring than it did on seven-year-old technology. When your view gets blocked by a colossus’ fin covering the entire screen, it feels more frustrating than it did when camera solutions were still being tested and debated.

Some fans might have issues with the small changes the game makes, but the far larger changes make it hard to argue that any other version of Shadow of the Colossus should be someone’s first time through the game. Those intense moments of running alongside a Colossus as sweeping music plays lives on in the remake as powerful as they have ever been, which is what I remember and love about the original.

Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 4 is scheduled to release on February 6.

Categories: Games

A Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Battle Primer

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 14:27

If you're wondering how combat in a three v. three Final Fantasy team battle title works, Square Enix's new trailer for Dissidia Final Fantasy NT gives you the rundown.

The trailer shows off gameplay as well as explains the different kinds of attacks, classes (including which ones have the edge in the rock-paper-scissors battle), EX Skills, team-enhancing summons, and more.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT for the PS4 comes out on January 30.

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Categories: Games

Sucker Punch Gives Players More Freedom In Its Japanese Open World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 10/30/2017 - 19:02

Who doesn’t want to play as a samurai? That’s Sucker Punch's philosophy, based on a behind the scenes video for its new stealth action game Ghost of Tsushima, which debuted at Sony’s Paris Games Week presentation.

When Sucker Punch decided to move away from Infamous three-and-a-half-years-ago, the team knew it had to have a strong idea that would capture players’ imaginations. According to creative director Nate Fox, the fantasy of playing as a samurai in feudal Japan was too exciting to pass up. "We came upon this game idea, which is awesomely simple," Fox said. "Who doesn't want to go to feudal Japan? Who doesn't want to be a samurai with a katana on their hip?"

The behind the scenes video doesn’t show off any new gameplay, but it does provide a better sense of Sucker Punch’s approach to the game’s open world and the history the creative team is pulling from.

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Sucker Punch wants to give players more freedom and choice in this open world version of feudal Japan. Taking on the role of a samurai in a 1274 version of Japan, set during the Mongol invasion of Tsushima, an island between Japan’s mainland and the Korean Peninsula. In the game, players will be able to explore Tsushima and all its villages and landscapes.

According to creative director Jason Connell, the team is really focusing on exploration and a sense of discovery. “I think player choice in the game will mean something very different than other games we’ve made in the past,” says Connell. “We really want you to have that choice of, ‘Hey, that cool bamboo forest over there, I really want to check it out. I want to head in that direction and I want to see what it is.’”

We still don't know when players will be able to slice their way through Tsushima, but stay tuned for more information. And in the meantime, watch our video feature on the history of Sucker Punch and the Infamous series.

[Source: PlayStation Youtube]

Categories: Games

Megaton Rainfall Review

Gamespot News Feed - Sun, 10/29/2017 - 19:00

You can play as Superman in a bunch of games. But despite the lack of a DC Comics license, or a set of red and blue tights, Megaton Rainfall offers one of the most engaging Superman experiences to date. The exhilaration of flight, the feeling of power, and, perhaps most importantly, the sense of personal responsibility for the planet, has never been captured quite like this before.

Megaton Rainfall is at its core an arcade-style shooter, but its priorities are far different than your average button-mashing, auto-scrolling game. You play as a superpowered being called the Offspring, brought to life by a mysterious cube for the sole purpose of stopping an alien invasion from destroying Earth. You start in space, and when the cube gives you control, you’re given a marker, showing where the aliens will make landfall. They may set their sights on only one city, but if they see they’re no match for you, they tend to flee halfway across the country to find a new target. Every mission involves shooting off to another city, waiting for the extraterrestrial threat, busting up their weapons of mass destruction, and taking the harvested energy back to the cube, who’ll convert it into new cosmic powers.

Megaton Rainfall looks rough around the edges, but where it lacks in eye candy, it makes up for in sheer scale. Earth is represented through a wide range of environments and bodies of water separating the aliens' primary targets. Despite underwhelming textures, moving to and fro can feel like you’re flying around the world, especially in VR, where the sheer sense of speed becomes a delirious distraction.

What makes every encounter truly thrilling is the game's unique life bar. It isn't measuring your own vitality, but instead the health of the city you're protecting. Every loss of life and bit of damage results in a storm of rubble and shrapnel, accompanied by the harrowing screams of the populace. Alien crafts can cause extreme damage, but so can you if one of your attacks misses its mark and hits a crowded street or city hall instead. One of the more tense elements later in the game comes when a particular alien craft starts dropping little green nuclear bombs that need to be tossed into the ocean or flown into the upper atmosphere, lest they detonate within a city. You never forget for a second just how many people stand to lose their lives if you fail, and the feeling of relief when you succeed, is an experience even some of the best superhero games haven’t quite been able to deliver.

As you can guess, you can't just fly around tossing energy blasts and heat rays willy-nilly. Each of the enemy spacecraft have their own glaring weaknesses to exploit, but getting into just the right position to toss energy or fire a heat ray is a careful process, one the game isn't always quite precise enough to handle. Some enemies move with fairly predictable patterns, but some have a habit of moving with such unpredictable behavior that hitting them without using one of your limited special powers is more a matter of luck than skill. Combine that with the fact that flight is sometimes a bit too responsive, making it easy to overshoot your target. More frantic fights can also get extraordinarily dizzying, a problem that's exacerbated when playing in VR. There's a rather impressive amount of options to tweak the VR experience, but even with most of the safety features turned on, hectic stages still feel disorienting. A lock-on function would've made all the difference in the world here.

Your arsenal is also mildly underpowered for much of what you'll be facing. The primary weapon is an energy blast that does decent damage but is also slow moving. The other powers you earn over the course of the game--the ability to stop time, a focused heat ray, telekinesis, a super dash, and the ability to drill underground--all have their uses, but cooldown times for each one often run longer than it takes for you to get into another situation that needs it. None of the challenges are impossible, but all of them require just a bit more work than they logically should.

Still, when Megaton Rainfall succeeds, even the relative problems fade into the background. Watching aliens crumble into a million pieces, stare in horror as a city gets eclipsed in a nuclear blast, watching a mothership collapse under fire, drilling into the Earth to stop a bomb from going off--all of these are the stuff of childhood dreams. To play Megaton Rainfall is to inhabit a flying superhero like nothing else in VR.

Categories: Games

The Mummy Demastered Review

Gamespot News Feed - Sun, 10/29/2017 - 16:00

Developer WayForward has channeled its knack for crafting eye-catching retro games to make The Mummy Demastered, a licensed game based on the recent (and disappointing) Tom Cruise movie. It's an unusual fit, but don't let that dissuade you. Unlike most games based on movies, The Mummy almost completely abandons its source material to try something different, and mostly succeeds.

The Mummy is, at heart, a mixture of Ghosts n' Goblins and Metroid. It looks and plays as if it would be perfectly at home on the Super Nintendo, and everything about it will feel instantly familiar to anyone who's played their fair share of 16-bit side-scrolling action games. There's one giant map where new sections are opened by either finding new abilities and items or defeating bosses. Monsters immediately respawn as soon as you enter a new room or area and secret treasures encourage exploration.

Supply boxes are scattered throughout the world containing everything from an assortment of new weapons to health upgrades. Weapons include machine guns, a flame thrower, shotgun, rocket launcher, and more, including several types of grenades, ranging from standard explosive to fiery napalm. The Mummy also features destructible statues containing secret scrolls to grant you extra speed, higher jumps, and other necessary skills to reach new areas. It's a tried-and-true method of progression that keeps you searching every passage, and there's enough variety in the locations and room designs to keep the familiar gameplay from feeling stale.

The most notable aspect--for better or worse--is the way The Mummy treats death, which takes inspiration from WayForward's DS action game, Aliens: Infestation. When you die in The Mummy, your character turns into a zombie and you take control of a new agent. In order to retrieve all the goodies you've collected, you have to successfully kill the ghost of your former self. This is a great idea that fits in at first but becomes incredibly tedious during tough boss battles. Since you respawn in a save room prior to a boss battle, dying leads to an annoying series of events requiring you to kill the last agent, then go and kill a bunch of lesser monsters to regain health, before trying again to take down the boss. There's no option to simply revert to your last save file.

It's also a very tough game in general, ghost agents notwithstanding. Enemies constantly come at you from multiple angles, there are environmental hazards like toxic waste, and difficult bosses relentlessly test your shooting and dodging skills. All of these moments feel great in action, but the limited eight-way directional aiming is an occasional annoyance. Since you frequently have to shoot things at angles above and below you, the lack of finesse here requires constant position adjustments. It would have helped the combat flow to take advantage of modern analog controls and allow for a full range of motion when aiming.

Quibbles aside, The Mummy delivers a creative and action-packed adventure. Full of running, jumping, and gunning through tombs, forests, sewers, subway tunnels, and beyond, the game brims with challenging old-school charm. It's sure to bring back a flood of nostalgia, while still managing to be a solid game on its own. Still, a few more modern touches to make it slightly more playable wouldn't have hurt. As it is though, this is a fun and tough monster-filled trek that surpasses the license it's attached to.

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